Bengaluru FC footballer Sunil Chhetri believes his team has assembled the perfect squad to turn things around after two disappointing Indian Super League campaigns.
BFC, which failed to qualify for the ISL playoff rounds in the previous two seasons, has taken positive steps by signing the likes of striker Roy Krishna, Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez, right-back Prabir Das and defender Sandesh Jhingan. The club also has a new coach in Simon Grayson, a former Premier League player, who managed teams like Leeds United, Blackpool and Preston North End.
“The last two years have hurt. But with guys like Roy, Javi and Sandesh coming in, we have got everything that we wanted. We can’t complain anymore,” Chhetri said in a pre-season media interaction here.
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In attack, Chhetri will be thrilled to partner with prolific goal-scorer Krishna. Turning out for ATK, Krishna finished the 2019-20 ISL season as the joint highest goal-scorer. The next year, the Fijian racked up 14 goals for ATK Mohun Bagan to win the ‘Golden Ball’ award for the best player of the season. Injuries and a COVID-19 bout restricted Krishna’s appearances in the 2021-22 ISL season, but he did manage to score seven goals.
“In the last three or four years, Roy has by far been the best number nine alongside Coro (Ferran Corominas of FC Goa). All of us players have to do everything to make him comfortable. If Roy is made comfortable, we know what he can produce. Goal scoring comes naturally to him,” Chhetri said.
On BFC’s sub-par show in the previous season, under Marco Pezzaiuoli, Chhetri said, “We weren’t in sync. We have to know what the coach wants, so that we can move in that direction. That’s the best way to get results. We missed out on this last year. But it’s not just the mistake of one person. The performances we gave as individuals - the way I missed goals, the way we defended - did not help,” Chhetri said.
“As a team, what hurt was that we started missing that camaraderie inside the dressing room. This was never the case at this club. It really bothered me,” Chhetri added.
Krishna explained that he views Chhetri as a role model, and that he can “learn a lot from Chhetri”. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to score plenty of goals,” Krishna said. BFC begins its 2022-23 campaign with a clash against Jamshedpur FC in the Durand Cup on Wednesday.